Saturday, 29 April 2017

Jag Annual 1971



Launched on April 28th 1968, Jag proved to be a short-lived comic that lasted just 48 issues until the following year when it was merged with Tiger, one of IPC's stronger titles. Jag was unusual due to it's size which made it difficult to display, so much so that it eventually went through a revamp to become a normal sized comic.

As was usual Jag had a number of annuals, four in total which well outlasted the original comic itself. This edition cover-dated 1971 would have been released for Christmas 1970, a year after the demise of Jag as a solo title but still visible as part of Tiger and Jag.

 

This was not a comic that I purchased as a child, though one or two did end up in possession at the time. There was a lot of competition in the British comics market at the time so it was impossible to buy them all, especially as had already developed a love of the American four-colour superheros comics!

Nevertheless I was more than interested in picking up a copy of the annual which has a mixture of picture and prose stories plus features, though far too much football for my tastes but then the British schoolboy was supposed to be football mad. I wasn't, neither were more than a few of my friends though we were in the minority.

A feature on The Red Devils kicked off the book, followed by a familiar tale of McTavish and O'Toole which I'm sure appeared elsewhere....

Comedy (of sorts) featured in the somewhat politically incorrect Cap'n Codsmouth which just wouldn't make print today given the cannibalistic stereotypes of black people featured within! This was the seventies and IPC's publisher did have Sparky!

Other stories included Iron-Man Martin, The Indestructible Man, Custer (yeah That Custer) and Jag's most famous strip Football Family Robinson. My favourite in the Annual was The Mouse Patrol, the tale of children stealing a tank to look for their missing fathers in the desert war.

I have yet to obtain copies of the original comic though do have a handful of Tiger & Jags which becomes an "all-sport" title at one stage and therefore of not much interest to me.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

My Greatest Adventure #1 (Dynamite)



My Greatest Adventure #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Bill Willingham (w) Cezar Razek (a)

A "pulp fiction" spectacular takes place with the teaming up of Edgar Rice Burroughs' various creations. Tarzan & Jane, John Carter & Dejah Thoris, Carson of Venus Korak, son of Tarzan and man more some more familiar than others.

A spaceship crashes in the jungle helpfully just where Tarzan happens to be out and about with a few of the natives and the news arrives of an alien plot. The race is on to beat these villains to the Eye of Judgement, a gemstone that powers a weapon, one that may threaten all.

Tarzan gathers all his adventurers for what he simplys "the venture" and readers are given a two page splash of the team with explanations of who all these people are for those not familiar with all of Burrough's characters.

Here's a taste of what promises to be a very entertaining story!









Monday, 17 April 2017

Angel and The Ape (DC 1991)



Angel and The Ape #1-4 (DC)

Phil Foglio (w) K. S. Wilson (a)

During the sixties DC Comics came up with some oddball titles such as Angel and The Ape and the Inferior Five the latter of which was supposedly an X-Men parody but had a life of its own. Well for a 12 issue run. Having limited pocket money I guess many kids like myself didn't consider trying these titles since pocket money was limited, so it's only in recent times I have even got around to reading issues of these comics.

 

I came across this four issue mini-series quite by accident when looking for other stuff which wasn't in stock and being a Bank Holiday weekend worth a try.

Now I'm hooked.

Angel and The Ape now makes sense. Sam (the Ape) comes from Gorilla City (which will make sense to fans of the Flash and the Justice League since that is where super-villain Gorilla Grodd comes from. Sam has a mild mind controlling power which allows him to exist in homo-sapien society.

This story also co-stars Dumb Bunny, the super-strong but not very bright member of the Inferior Five who also show up. DB is in need of a boyfriend who is strong enough so she doesn't break him. Literally I'm afraid and the male superhero community don't take her very seriously as seen when DB tires ringing the JLI for help and gets laughed at by Guy Gardner.

Oh and we discover Angel and Bunny are sisters. Well half sisters......

 

They need help you see. Gorilla Grodd is kidnapping Sam as he needs his powers to help "cull" humanity and make the Gorillas the main intelligent lifeform on the planet. It seems the task of saving humanity is down to the Z-List heroes.

Loved it.

A nice very inexpensive addition to anyone's collection that ties these amusing characters into the DC universe proper. I look forward to seeing them all again soon. After all Merryman appeared in Grant Morrison's Final Crisis and even err..Captain Carrot has been seen whizzing around the multiverse!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Rook #4 (Warren/1980)



Up until now I have been occasionally reading adventures of The Rook in Eerie Magazine. However I thought it was about time to dip into his solo comic and picked up one of two issues available in my local comic shop.

The artwork by Lee Elias in the lead Rook story is superb and the story co-starring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne grabbed my interest so over time I will be seeking out further back issues.

The backup stories in this issue however left me nonplussed. Voltar might grow on me though.

Sadly this comic magazine only lasted 14 issues despite strong sales worldwide. Currently the licence is held by Dark Horse Comics where new material is appearing from time to time.

I also recommend this website for fans of the Rook: The Master of Time which contains far more material than I can ever hope to publish!

 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Plant of the Apes #1 (Marvel Magazine/Australia)



The latest addition to my ever-growing black & white magazine collection is a copy of Planet of the Apes #1 though this copy was printed in Australia. It's creative content is I am assured the same as the US edition which is fine by me. A wee bit "well read" but then not only has it travelled half-way around the world it's been through one of those Exchange Bookshops that were a great source of reading material until they went the way of the dodo.

There are two stories The Lawgiver set after the films when Ape and were living in peace, that is until a band of gorillas start guerilla warfare plus the first part of an adaptation of the original film. The original story is well worth a dip but I'm not a fan of adaptations, especially when the cast are unrecognisable. Well the human cast anyway...

The US version lasted 29 issues and some of the material found it's way into the British Planet of the Apes weekly comic even though this magazine was aimed at adults. I could find no information on the Australian monthly published by Yatta though Newton published a more regular edition.

Here's one I'll try & pick up in the near future. Viking gorillas. Oooh.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Smash! #162 Last "Power" Comic (1969)



Starting with WHAM! in 1964 Odhams publishers eventually launched a whole range of titles which became know as "Power Comics" and aped a similar editorial style to Marvel Comics whose material they reprinted in all their titles.

The second, most successful and longest lasting of their comics was SMASH! This lasted 162 issues in it's original format before being sold to IPC/Fleetway whos decided to revamp the title and make it a much more standard British "boys" comic.

Like may children of the sixties I have fond memories of these comics. WHAM!, SMASH!, POW!, Fantastic and Terrific were all great reads introducing many readers to the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Thor, Hulk and the whole range of Marvel super-heroes then taking off under Stan Lee in the USA.

Originally WHAM! and SMASH! were renowned for their brand of anarchic humour before the super-heroes came along and remained a mix until the end.

The lead story in the final issue was The Swots and the Blots, other favourites included Bad Penny, Grimley Feendish and The Nervs! Adventure included Brians Brain, Bunsen's Burner and of course Thor and the Fantastic Four.

This issue advertised a big change in the following issue. More pages, more adventure and a new direction that gave the comic fresh life for a further couple of years until it was merged with Valiant.

Both incarnations are well worth collecting.

 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Captain Marvel #36 (Marvel/1974)



Captain Marvel #36 (Marvel Comics)

Reprint: Stan Lee (w) Gene Colan (a). 
New material: Steve Engleheart, Jim Starlin & Bill Mantlo

Although not the first comic book character to be called Captain Marvel, this is the original Captain Mar-vel, the rebellious Kree warrior sent to Earth to punish mankind, ends up as a super-hero and becomes "protector of the universe.

In fact this is probably the best introductory issue you can find for the good Captain. It reprints the whole of Marvel Super-Heroes #12 from the sixties and gives readers a two page potted history of Captain Marvel's subsequent developments including his lifeforce being fused with that of Rick Jones and having to continually swap places with him in the negative zone.

Yeah I know, it's complicated.



This runs into a three part story in which the villain of the piece appears to be a murderous Watcher. Go figure, no spoilers here. And anyway I still have #38 & #39 to read at the time of writing so I can't tell ya yet!

Considering Captain Marvel had only had 36 issues by this point so much has happened to him. Great character much missed.



  

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Haunt of Horror #2 (Marvel Magazine/1974)



Originally launched as a digest sized prose magazine which flopped, Haunt of Horror was subsequently relaunched as a black & white comic magazine as part of Marvel's foray into the more "adult" orientated magazine market.

This second issue introduces readers to Gabriel: Devil Hunter, a former priest turned exorcist embroiled in a case of possession involving a former colleague in the Catholic church. Very much a story of the times as this is followed by a feature on the "most terrifying film of all time"The Exorcist.

However the best story in this issue is the one off Grandma Died Last Year penned by Doug Monech with top notch art from Gene Colan & Frank Chiarmonte which follows the descent of a young boy into despair following the death of beloved grandmother. Domestic violence, child abuse and the ultimate vengeance with a twist.

There are two Satana stories, one of which is prose (and I skipped, not what I buy comics for), the latter of which A Fire in Hell sees our heroine exiled from Hell by her father's enemies seek help to return and warn him against a plot to dethrone the Lord of Flies himself.

Not a bad magazine but only lasted five issues as Marvel flooded the shelves with too many similar titles.

 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Jughead: The Hunger (Archie Horror)



Jughead: The Hunger (Archie Horror)

Frank Tieri (w) Michael Walsh (a)

In Afterlife with Archie poor old Jughead gets turned into a zombie and infects half the Riverdale residents who then proceed to try and eat the others. A story that continues despite a really shoddy release schedule. However for those of you who can't wait for the next installment here's a one shot special with a different fate for our boy.

In this extra length tale Jughead is revealed to be a werewolf responsible for a number of deaths in Riverdale. However someone is on his tail. Betty Cooper, Werewolf Hunter.

An entertaining tale featuring the usual gang well worth picking up. Here's a little preview but perhaps if anyone from Archie Comics is reading this maybe someone else will get the "horror treatment". Maybe Veronica Bride of Dracula next? Just asking!









Variant Cover by Robert Hack

Monday, 3 April 2017

The Goblin #1 (Warren/1982)



The last title launched by Warren Publishing before it's untimely demise was this real oddity, The Goblin. An "editorial" proclaimed:

We haven't been this excited since Vampirella started teething! Warren is finally making its full-length foray into the super-hero field with THE GOBLIN! It's our newest magazine and it's devoted to the craziest concentration of super-heroes imaginable. Yes super-heroes...those long-johned leading men we all grew up with. Now we figure it's time for them to grow up with us.

Having seen a couple of reviews and comments about this comic magazine I decided to pick up a copy of the first issue and can only say it is a bizarre publication. I'm not even sure some of the creations count as "super-heroes in any shape or form.

The title story is devoted to The Goblin himself by Bill DuBay & Lee Elias is quite unusual in focusing on a black family with one of the able to turn into a mystical character with help of a white ghost. A mixture of social commentary about slum landlords with UFO's and out of time US soldiers from the North African theatre make a strangely compelling tale.

Next up is Tin Man,also by Bill DuBay with art from Ruby Nebres. Reminiscent of the film The Day the Earth Stood Still, there's a small twist which sees a conspiracy by the US President and his Soviet counterpart to keep the world peace.

Next up is a four colour supplement Phil Photon and the Troll Patrol which is seemingly influenced by the British 2000 AD. I remain unsure as to why their spaceship looks like a hairdryer.

The final two stories The Micro-Buccaneers and in particular Wizard Wormglow (both by Timothy Moriarity) were frankly dreadful.

Intended to be bi-monthly, The Goblin lasted just three issues. Probably not to everyone's tastes.

  

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Adam Strange/Future Quest #1 (DC)

Cover

Adam Strange/Future Quest #1 (DC)

Marc Andreyko & Jeff Parker (W) Steve Lieber (a)

DC Comics continue their revival of Hanna Barbera properties with a number of crossovers between their characters and the DC Universe. Four of these special editions were released this week of which I picked up two.

This meeting of Adam Strange and Jonny Quest takes place immediately after their two mini series ended. Adam is travelling by Zeta beam following his confrontation with Despero and the death of Katar Hol in the six issue mini-series Death of Hawkman when he goes through a vortex that brings him to a strange version of Earth. Sans memory for a while.

Here he meets Jonny Quest, Hadji, Dr. Benton Quest and Race Bannon in a strange lost valley full of creatures out of time. Oh and there are some bad guys left over from the recent 12 issue run of Future Quest.

Whilst I've always been a fan of Adam Strange I only vaguely remember Jonny Quest and wasn't particularly a fan but this story is a cracking little yarn.

  

The book also has a back-up feature starring not just Top Cat but Batman and Catwoman. Seems old Top Cat has got lost in the multiverse whilst escaping from prison and is searching for Bernie. And there's a little twist which I didn't see coming.

A new Top Cat series is in the making. Sounds fun since it's set in the DC universe.

Here's a reminder of the Jonny Quest cartoon....


.....but Top Cat needs no introduction however ......



Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Justice League of America #37 & 38 (DC/1965)



Justice League of America #37 (DC)

Gardner Fox (w) n/k (a)

Hailing from the Silver Age of comics is this two part story in which the Justice League only play a cameo role in their own title! Earth without a Justice League is exactly what it says on the cover. And it's all Johnny Thunders fault!

After having a row with his Banhnisian Thunderbolt on Earth Two, the pair go to Earth One where they meet Johnny's counterpart. Problem is this version of him is a crook and after knocking out "our" Johnny the villain gets control of Thunderbolt.

Using Thunderbolt to commit crime "Johnny" is thwarted by the Flash and decides to make history different by getting his new found servant to "unmake" the Justice League ensuring they never become heroes. So Thunderbolt stops Krypton exploding so Superman never comes to Earth, saves Abin Sur so Hal Jordan never inherits the ring, prevents Barry Allen's accident and humiliates the Batman on his first outing.

In a world without heroes "Johnny's" crime spree is unstoppable except for one small matter.

The Justice Society arrive from Earth Two to try and save the day but they face an uphill struggle as "Johnny" turns his gang into the  Lawless League! From the Earth to the Moon a battle Royale takes place. Can the JSA win through?

It takes two issues to tell this tale and the ending whilst abrupt is fitting to a tale of magic and mayhem.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Pellucidar: At the Earth's Core TPB (Dark Horse)



Pellucidar: At the Earths Core (Dark Horse)

Len Wein/Dennis O'Neill (w) Alan Weiss/Michael Kaluta/Dan Green (a)

Edgar Rice Burrough was one of the most creative minds in early fantasy and science fiction and his most famous creation Tarzan still thrills readers and audiences to this day. Others may recall John Carter Warlord of Mars, recently brought to life by Dynamite Entertainment with his "last" story" being published over the next few months.

However there are other Rice Burrough creations that have been semi-forgotten such as Carson of Venus and At the Earths Core which my generation will recall was turned into one of those Doug McClure adventure films we used to watch in the school holidays.

Dark Horse have reprinted the DC version of Pellucidar which appeared in Korak Son of Tarzan #1 (DC edition) and subsequently Weird Worlds #1-7 where it came to a wee bit of an abrupt halt.

 

This is quite a violent story, especially for the early seventies when it first appeared in print and relates the adventures of David Innes and Abner Perry as they find themselves trapped in the world beneath the earth where humans are seemingly oppressed by apes but the real enemy are evil reptiles known as Mahars.

The battle for freedom commences but ends prematurely as sales were obviously not high enough to continue this storyline and the editorial blurb simply tells us that legend says David Innes and the beautiful Dian bring peace to the world of Pellucidar.

An inexpensive tome well worth picking up. Hopefully if sales go well Dark Horse will print a companion volume featuring Carson of Venus.